The Correspondence between an Evolving Mental Space
and Text Production
Copenhagen Competence Research Center and
Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Poster session presented at 9''^ Herbstakademie on Self-Organization of Cognition and
Applications to Psychology, Conference on Dynamical Systems in Cognitive Science, October
25-28,2000, Ascona, Monte Verita, Switzerland.
Self-reference in Writing
This paper deals with the intricate question of defining a writing style. Since
the start of the literary epoch of modernism by the beginning of the last century,
artistic writing has been influenced by the progress of natural science and technology
as well as by new findings about human mind and behaviour.
Self-reference in Writing
Style of writing = Style of thinking
20'" Century thinking:
Structuralism - Europe
Functionalism - USA
Two lines of scientific thinking (paradigms) can be discerned from the 1920's
onwards: the structuralism in Europe and iho, functionalism in the USA. Structuralism
as scientific principle found its area of application in Gestalt psychology, which was
oriented towards the organisation of part-wholes of human mind. But since it could
not provide psychologists with mental tests, it was soon replaced by the functionalism
in the USA. Functionalism was modelled in the form of behaviourism and the
behaviour model has been the dominating one ever since. However, and this is part of
the actual experimental question, the fiinctionalism and the behaviourism are difficult
to discern fi-om one another in scientific practice.
The starting-point of the present study is the assumption that scientific ideas
will influence writing and other cultural utterances in various fields. Thus writers of
pure literature would try to transform scientific ideas and concepts in their telling a
story, even though they will not necessarily be aware of which concepts in fact are
present in their texts and in what way.
The hypothesis put forward in this poster presentation is that Ernest
Hemingway in being an American writer and productive in the 1920's, would be
categorised as a functionalist in mind and, consequently, a behaviourist in practice.
Therefore, the principle behind this hypothesis would be outlined as in Figure 2.
The Experimenter 's Mind-Hypothesis
(Child moves on cliff)
Figure 2 should be read as follows: The functionalism is governing the
behaviourism. In a scientific setting, the behaviour model is realised as an inner
parenthesis, expressing a level of processing on which the components Agent, action,
and Objective are acting in an affinity relation. As an example of a true experiential
(ecological) background to this relationship the functionalistic - behaviouristic
"Visual Cliff-experiment is given (Gibson & Walk, 1960). In this setting the
governing functionalistic component of the paradigm is realised as the experimenters'
mind and the behavioural component is realised as the child (A) moving (a) on the
Transformation of the Ecological Level into Text
A a (AaO)
Design of (experimental variables)
By transforming the ecological level of Figure 2 to a level at which the
behavioural component is the written action means that the experimental variables
(child and cliff) will be replaced with symbols (Figure 3). This measure introduces an
involvement of the designer with the designed, which is different in type compared to
the former level, although not different in kind. Letting the writer Hemingway take
the fimctional position of experimental designer means that he will be a representative
of the way a story writer writes himself into the textual level by means of the style
with which he mediates the textual variables.
Prerequisites for Evolving Space
Perspective — > Texture
Perspective Structure -^ (AaO)
The writer's perspective should be discovered by means of the texture he has
produced. A method for the analysis and measurement of structure will be used. By
this method the A and the O components of the texture will be analysed as to the
degree to which a structure can be discovered, which reflects properties of the
transformed behavioural component. The design of Figure 4 moreover visualises the
idea that involved in the objective structure is the writer's intention (perspective),
which imposes spatial co-ordinates on the extension of his text production.
The experimental design for the study of Hemingway's writing style is
presented in Table 1 .
Design for the Study of Hemingway 's Writing Style
A fixation of both A (Perspective) and O (Viewpoints) means Symbol, which
is stationary and functions as the zero-hypothesis for the reading process. To develop
understanding requires syntactic movement. Thus (-+) means that the objects vary
while the perspective stays the same (persons as types, i. e. roles). The (+-) case
means that the perspective, i.e. the fiinction, varies (persons move in the room and
talk from different angles). A refinement of this technique is to let someone look into
a mirror to reach perspective change without functional movement.
In this way Hemingway manipulates the perspective for the reader to obtain
understanding (++). The diagonal (-+, +-) represents events at the textual level
whereas the opposite diagonal represents the writer's intention. The diagonals have a
Method and Experimental Text
The method used is Perspective Text Analysis, which has been developed by
Bemhard and Inger Bierschenk. In this connection it is sufficient to refer to B.
Bierschenk's (2000) poster presentation at this conference.
The experimental text is a portion from a short story, "The killers", first
published in 1927 (Hemingway, 1977). It is worded:
Sam, the nigger, standing in his apron, looked at the two
men sitting at the counter. 'Yes, sir,' he said. Al got down
from his stool.
'I'm going back to the kitchen with the nigger and bright
boy, 'he said. 'Go back to the kitchen, nigger. You go with
him, bright boy.' The little man walked after Nick and Sam,
the cook back into the kitchen. The door shut after them. The
man called Max sat at the counter opposite George. He didn't
look at George but looked in the mirror that ran along back of
the counter. Henry's had been made over from a saloon into a
'Well, bright boy,' Max said, looking into the mirror, 'why
don't you say something?'
'What's it all about?'
'Hey, Al,' Max called, 'bright boy wants to know what it's
'Why don't you tell him?' Al's voice came from the
'What do you think it's all about?'
'I don't know.'
'What do you think?'
Max looked into the mirror all the time he was talking.
'I wouldn't say.'
Articulation of a Space and its Folded Information
The following analyses will show the space of the sample text. It is a typical
text in being accurate, unemotional and told in the form of a dialogue. Following the
paradigmatic presentations so far, Figures 5 and 6 show the space of the objective
structure, that is the O- and A-spaces of the inner parenthesis.
The figures represent the variability at textual level. As can be seen, both
spaces extend very close to the 0-line, which means that no depth has been projected
from the surface layout. Moreover, the formation in the A-space shows great
similarity with the O-space. The result implies that the assumed involvement of the
outer A in the objective structure can be confirmed: The formation of the spaces is
produced complementary to each other.
With respect to the hypothesis it can be stated that the response surfaces give
the impression that the text is very compressed and intensively worked out. A rigid
action radius and a purified environment can be read out from these formations.
Whether this is reflecting a behaviouristic way of writing, as stated in the hypothesis,
will be an open question until the information structure of the spaces has been
Does the narrow surface layout reflect an information structure corresponding
to the fimctionalistic - behaviouristic experimental design, which has been expected?
The answer is given in the folded spaces of Figures 7 and 8, which represent in the
form of holophors the information embedded in the structure.
The graph of Figure 7 forms three evident mountain chains, one low marked
by Caution and Estrangement, one with the higher peaks Hostility and Pain, and
between these formations a single top expressing Risk. This is a depiction of an
environment, which contextualises the risky visual cliff, the conspicousness and
strange feelings in the exploring child, and the aggressive, dangerous cliff which may
cause pain for the child, if it picks up its meaning. This is exactly what the Visual
Cliff-experiment aimed at simulating with the aid of the behavioural component.
The Unfolded Space of the Objective-Component
The Unfolded Space of the Agent-Component
The Unfolded A-Space
The Folded Space of the Objective Component
The Folded 0-Space
The Folded Space of the Agent-Component
The Folded A-Space
Hemingway has simulated the pain, which is the expression of the understanding that
may be the outcome of the reading.
The Agent's perspective is represented in Figure 8. Hostility and Firmness
indicate the writer's intention to build up a threat with functionalistic accuracy. The
highest peak is Pain, which is formed by Disregard and Imaginary. Both represent
the intention to design an environment, which is dangerous, however virtual.
In conclusion, these formations are complementary too. The main structure at
the textual level is bound to the writing event, both the fiction produced and the
intentionality that is inevitably built into it. Hostility and Pain both imply an objective
and a subjective side and thus emerge as a unity in this analysis.
And how about the answer to the research question? Is Hemingway a
functionalist in mind and a behaviourist is practice? Well, the results of Figures 5-8
tell us that he is a functionaUst throughout, since functionalist ideas necessarily
govern behaviourist concepts when it comes to practice. However, it should be
pointed out that without the method of analysis used the fiinctionalist structure of the
designer would not have been distinguished from the object of his design.
Bierschenk, B. (2000). Nature 's string stitching device for the production of a
language space. Poster session presented at 9^ Herbstakademie on Self-
Organization of Cognition and Applications to Psychology, Conference on
Dynamical Systems in Cognitive Science, October 25-28, Ascona, Monte
Gibson, E. J., & Walk, R. D. (1960). The "visual cliff. Scientific American, 202(4),
Hemingway, E. (1977). The Killers. In E. Hemingway, Men Without Women, (pp. 49-
58). London: Granada Publishing. (First published 1927)
SigmaPlot 5.0 (1988). User's Guide. Chicago: SPSS Inc.
The illustration in Figure 3, page 5, is copied from a drawing by Erik
Palmquist to the cover of the Swedish translation of Hemingway's "Islands in the
stream" published by Aldus/Bonniers, Stockholm, 1972.
This article has been produced with financial support from the Danish
Research Councils. Correspondence should be sent to Inger Bierschenk, Copenhagen
Competence Research Centre, Copenhagen University, Njalsgade 88, DK-2300
Copenhagen S, Denmark or via E-mail to INGER@axp.psl.ku.dk